Rand Reason Icebreaker

by November 20th, 2009 - Culture » Politics »

Ayn Rand, the radically individualistic author/philosopher has already been for me the most awkward nut to crack open in front of other people. Similarly concerning many other topics, many people have formed their opinions through a very black and white absolute argument of yes or no, with verdicts often tied to preexisting passions or allegiances that often exclude the direct topic at hand.

Due to these absurd conversations that I neither can nor truly desire to win, I have often chosen instead not to even have such materials present to be made a topic of. This is a personal failing, to be sure, and I have now come to find such possible encounters to be something better ignored or confronted, however the situation presents itself

Enter Reason Magazine, a libertarian publication of “Free Minds and Free Markets”. In particular, their December 2009 issue has a black and white photo of Ayn Rand on the cover with the title “She’s Back!” boldly emblazoned (in magenta?). An increasingly avid reader of Reason in print and on the web, I couldn’t help but laugh at the cover in regards to my own shyness of such topics.

Asked what I am reading and flipping to the cover, it is sure to be one of the greatest lightning rods of conversations, something quite beyond an icebreaker in some situations throwing us into sub-intellectual combat of mass confusion.

Sure enough, I did not even escape the check-out line without being drawn into conversation with my cashier, “She’s back? Who’s she?”

The answer should be, “She’s an author whose literary efforts are spectacular in many regards and fail in others where redundancy propagandizes her philosophical positions beyond a more easily digestible romanticism. Most known for valuing individual freedom above all else, she has been demonized by opponents of capitalism as something far worse than she is and has recently been popularized by Republican hacks who wave her as if a banner in support of their basest combat against the opposing party, in no way helping to rid what misconceptions her opponents already have constructed. Despite the enduring value of her work, championing the right of the individual against the ambiguous collective, her philosophy “Objectivism” grew to incorporate interesting, but puzzling and strict personal rules that, in addition to her other personal failings, she too likely failed, ironically forming in many instances a cult-like atmosphere around her.”

Behind me, four or five customers stand behind me waiting to check out so I opt instead for “She’s an author from many years ago, who has become more popular again due to the recent political climate.”

Meh. I need to get better at talking to people about such things for many reasons.

While I wrote many lovely words above that somewhat accurately covered the topic, Peter Bagge’s comic in the same issue of Reason more perfectly presents the arguments and might very well be best distributed with all Ayn Rand’s publications to be handed out if need be.

Ayn Rand should be valued for her clear arguments against government intrusion into personal liberty in all its forms and her romanticism thereof. Should opponents use her factual and fictional failings as an argument for their case or conservative pundits use her as a rally point for their own perverted power struggle, she may best be ignored for either use fails either argument.

While tempting to embrace the caricature as a sort of Marilyn Manson lightning-rod monster to rile those beyond reason, philosophical topics, here relating to government, can not be constructively or logically conversed upon if the the good or evil nature of a celebrity is to be in any way a condition.

Enter, once again, Reason Magazine which has very much gained admiration from me after a period of skepticism. Given her resurgence, they too have recently produced many Rand related articles and videos. However, the author is not used as an argument, but rather as an icebreaker from which they delve more deeply and logically into real issues of government and personal liberty.

Come for, or in spite of, the Rand and stay for the Reason or at least some work on the lower case variety.

Reason Magazine: Writing about many of the same topics I’d like to write about…better than I have…recently…

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